Vientiane (ILO Info) – The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection has received $ 35,000 in support from the International Labor Organization to provide immediate relief and information to 4,500 returning Laotian migrant workers during their stay in two weeks in quarantine centers. Jointly funded by the ILO’s Ship to Shore Rights Southeast Asia and TRIANGLE programs in ASEAN, assistance will target key provinces where returns have increased in recent months due to the third wave of the AIDS epidemic. COVID-19 in Thailand, including Champasak, Salavan, Bokeo, Xayabuly and Vientiane.

Handing over of personal protective equipment and food to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Lao PDR, September 7, 2021 © ILO

According to United Nations data, 1.3 million Lao nationals live abroad, with Thailand being the largest destination country. Lao migrant workers are mainly employed in domestic work, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, seafood processing and recreation, mainly in neighboring border provinces and major cities in Thailand. Remittances from these workers are a significant source of income in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, totaling approximately US $ 265 million in 2020.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a very negative effect on the livelihoods of Laotian migrants, with more than 140,000 returns in July 2021. Coupled with significant job losses and declining income for migrant workers remaining in destination countries, the amount of remittances sent home to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has declined significantly. These transfers serve to diversify and smooth household income and are particularly essential for strengthening the financial resilience of women and rural populations.

In addition to providing emergency assistance to returning migrant workers during their quarantine period, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection will provide information to help them find local employment options. This will include information on vocational training opportunities and employment opportunities in the labor market to help restore household income.

“Thousands of Laotian migrant workers are now returning home due to loss of income and jobs in destination countries. In many cases, these migrant workers, women and men, were the sole breadwinners, providing a lifeline for households in poor rural areas. It is essential to ensure that they are able to quarantine under safe and dignified conditions, as well as to help them find new employment opportunities upon their return home, ”Ms. Khemphone Phaokhamkeo said, national coordinator of the International Labor Organization in the democratic region of Laos. Republic.

Mr. Dan Heldon, Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Lao PDR, DFAT, stressed: “In collaboration with the ILO, our TRIANGLE program in ASEAN has reached over 42,000 migrant workers with a COVID-19 emergency assistance and legal assistance since the start of the pandemic. The Australian government is committed to supporting migrant workers returning to Lao PDR during these difficult times. We will also continue to work together on long-term support through the established migrant worker resource centers.

The EU Deputy Head of Delegation, Ms Baiba Zarina also underlined the importance of supporting the government’s efforts against the pandemic in this difficult time: “The European Union, in cooperation with the ILO, is happy to support the efforts of the government of Lao PDR to ensure the health and well-being of the Lao people, especially those in the most vulnerable situations ”.

Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia is a multi-country, multi-year initiative of the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN). Ship to Shore Rights is implemented by the ILO in collaboration with IOM and UNDP, with the overall aim of promoting regular and safe labor migration and decent work for all migrant workers in the fishing and seafood processing sectors in Southeast Asia. The program addresses the characteristics of work in the fisheries and seafood processing sectors as well as the obstacles and risks present in the migration system, which can lead to dangerous migration, decent work deficits, abuse and forced labor.

The TRIANGLE program in ASEAN extends cooperation between the International Labor Organization, the Australian Department of Foreign and Trade Affairs and Global Affairs Canada on protecting migrant workers and enhancing development opportunities. TRIANGLE in ASEAN aims to ensure that the benefits of labor migration are realized equally by migrant men and women; employers and governments. With a focus on harnessing the development potential of migration, TRIANGLE in ASEAN aims to shape labor migration opportunities to support inclusive and sustainable growth in the ASEAN region.

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